Background parenchymal enhancement and breast cancer: a review of the emerging evidences about its potential use as imaging biomarker

Rossella Rella, Andrea Contegiacomo, Enida Bufi, Sara Mercogliano, Paolo Belli, Riccardo Manfredi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES: To conduct a systematic review of evidences about the relationship between background parenchymal enhancement (BPE) of the contralateral healthy breast and breast cancer: its association with clinicopathological breast cancer characteristics, its potential as predictive and prognostic biomarker and the biological linkage between BPE and breast cancer.

METHODS: A computerized literature search using PubMed and Google Scholar was performed up to June 2020. Two authors independently conducted search, screening, quality assessment, and extraction of data from the eligible studies. Studies were assessed for quality and risk of bias using the revised Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies tool.

RESULTS: Of the 476 articles identified, 22 articles met the inclusion criteria. No significant association was found between BPE and invasiveness, histological cancer type, T- and N-stage, multifocality, lymphatic and vascular invasion and histological tumour grade while the association between BPE and molecular subtypes is still unclear. As predictive biomarker, a greater decrease in BPE during and after neoadjuvant chemotherapy was associated with pathological complete response. Results about the role of BPE as prognostic factor were inconsistent. An association between high BPE and microvessel density, CD34 and VEGF (histological markers of vascularization and angiogenesis) was found.

CONCLUSIONS: BPE of the contralateral breast is associated with breast cancer in several aspects, therefore it has been proposed as a tool to refine breast cancer decision-making process.

ADVANCES IN KNOWLEDGE: Additional researches with standardized BPE assessment are needed to translate this emerging biomarker into clinical practice in the era of personalized medicine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20200630
JournalThe British journal of radiology
Issue number1119
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2021


  • Biomarkers
  • Breast/diagnostic imaging
  • Breast Neoplasms/diagnostic imaging
  • Contrast Media
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement/methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging/methods
  • Parenchymal Tissue/diagnostic imaging


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